Lazar Markovic may only be 19, but he is already making headlines across Europe. And now a report in the Daily Mail claims Liverpool have joined the race for his signature, with chief scout Barry Hunter said to have run the rule over the player last week.
The Serbian attacking midfielder was first noticed during his time at Partizan Belgrade. But it has been his performances since a summer move to Benfica that have really caught the imagination.
For a while it looked like the title race in Portugal would be as close as those in Spain and England, with Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto fighting tooth-and-nail for the Primeira Liga.
But now Markovic’s Benfica are riding high, seven points clear of their nearest challengers Sporting. And the talented teenager is partly responsible for that.
Just a week after scoring in a 2-0 league victory over Pacos Ferreira, Markovic netted a vital – and outstanding – winner against Vitoria Guimaraes. It was from that point on that daylight began to appear between Benfica and the rest, and they have not looked back since.
Markovic now has seven goals for the season, and considering his age, his temperament and influence are outstanding. In short, it would be no surprise whatsoever if the reports claiming Liverpool are interested prove to be true.
But if Brendan Rodgers really does plan on making a move for one of Europe’s most exciting young talents, there are a couple of points he may need to consider.
The first is Markovic’s reported €40million release-clause. And the second are the stories from Portugal that claim Chelsea have first-refusal on the player – and for a reduced fee of just €15million.
Markovic’s agent Pini Zahavi recently said that his client would remain at Benfica next season. But in the longer term, with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard occupying a similar position on the pitch to Markovic, the Reds would do well to chance their hand.
After all, they clearly have their eye out for a new left-sided player, given the recent links to the likes of Nicolas Gaitan and Yevhen Konoplyanka. And Markovic has a huge future ahead of him.
Now, about that release-clause…
image: © plassen